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The Life Cycle of Clothing

Life Cycle Of Clothing
Clothing maintenance 
Clothing suffers assault both from within and without. The human body sheds skin cells and body oils, and exudes sweat, urine, and feces. From the outside, sun damage, moisture, abrasion and dirt assault garments. Fleas and lice may hide in seams. Worn clothing, if not cleaned and refurbished, will itch, look scruffy, and lose functionality (as when buttons fall off and zippers fail). In some cases, people wear an item of clothing until it falls apart. Cleaning leather presents difficulties, and bark cloth (tapa) cannot be washed without dissolving it. Owners may patch tears and rips, and brush off surface dirt, but old leather and bark clothing will always look old. But most clothing consists of cloth, and most cloth can be laundered and mended (patching, darning, but compare felt).

Laundry, ironing, storage
Humans have developed many specialized methods for laundering, ranging from early methods of pounding clothes against rocks in running streams, to the latest in electronic washing machines and dry cleaning (dissolving dirt in solvents other than water). Hot water washing (boiling), chemical cleaning and ironing are all traditional methods of sterilizing fabrics for hygiene purposes. Many kinds of clothing are designed to be ironed before they are worn to remove wrinkles. Most modern formal and semi-formal clothing is in this category (for example, dress shorts and suits). Ironed clothes are believed to look clean, fresh, and neat. Much contemporary casual clothing is made of knit materials that do not readily wrinkle, and do not require ironing. Some clothing is permanent press, having been treated with a coating (such as polytetrafluoroethylene) that suppresses wrinkles and creates a smooth appearance without ironing. Once clothes have been laundered and possibly ironed, they are usually hung on clothes hangers or folded, to keep them fresh until they are worn. Clothes are folded to allow them to be stored compactly, to prevent creasing, to preserve creases or to present them in a more pleasing manner, for instance when they are put on sale in stores. Many kinds of clothes are folded before they are put in suitcases as preparation for travel. Other clothes, such as suits, may be hung up in special garment bags, or rolled rather than folded. Many people use their clothing as packing material around fragile items that might otherwise break in transit.

In past times, mending was an art. A meticulous tailor or seamstress could mend rips with thread raveled from hems and seam edges so skillfully that the darn was practically invisible. When the raw material -cloth- was worth more than labor, it made sense to expend labor in saving it. Today clothing is considered a consumable item. Mass-manufactured clothing is less expensive than the labor required to repair it. Many people will buy a new piece of clothing rather than expend time mending. The thrifty still replace zippers and buttons and sew up ripped hems.
Clothind Life Cycle
Used, unwearable clothing was once used for quilts, rags, rugs, bandeges, and many other household uses. It could also be recycled into paper. Now it is usually thrown away. Used but still wearable clothing can be sold at consignment shops, dress agencies, flea markets, online auction, or donated to charity. There are many concerns about the life cycle of synthetics which come primarily from petrochemicals.Unlike natural fibers, their source is not renewable (in less than millions of years) and they are not biodegradable.

Life cycle analysis for cotton and polyester
Summary of life cycle analysis 
Over a lifetime of two years, which includes 12 washes, the results show how 1kg of each fabric performs.
Polyester uses 171.5 megaJoules of energy.
Cotton uses 140.1 megaJoules of energy.
Oil and gas 
To make 1kg of polyester takes 1.53kg of oil or gas.
Cotton grows naturally.
Fertilisers and pesticides
Growing 1kg of cotton uses 457g of fertilisers and 16g of pesticides.
Some growers are organic, and do not use chemicals, but this is less common.
1kg of polyester is responsible for 3.8kg of carbon dioxide while cotton causes 5.3kg.
Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain. Cotton results in 4g and polyester 0.2g.
Polyester uses 1,900 litres (including washes). Irrigating the cotton crops means 1kg requires 26,700 litres of water during its life.

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